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041/2013 – Establishment of an NYP Major Crime Unit (MCU) – 11 June 2013

Executive Summary and recommendation:

This paper is presented to the Police and Crime Commissioner and relates to the proposal to introduce a Major Crime Unit (MCU) for the investigation of Major and Serious Crime.

The key points for consideration and approval by the Police and Crime Commissioner are :

  • To support the introduction of a MCU as the preferred operational model for major crime investigation within North Yorkshire Police (NYP)
  • To recognise that the introduction of MCU would support the Crime Directorate restructure of remaining resources to more effectively meet current and future policing demands and service to its communities.
  • Authorise the one off capital expenditure of £88,450, one off revenue expenditure of £13,400 and recurring additional revenue expenditure costs of £206,100 as detailed in this paper to provide the estate, IT infrastructure, MCU team
  • To approve commencement of consultation with staff
  • To approve commencement of the capital works
  • To support the Chief Constable exploring the potential for future partnership working in the MCU arena. This to be predicated on demonstrating additional efficiency and effectiveness in reducing harm.

Police and Crime Commissioner decision:


Signature Date 11 June 2013
Title Police & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire

Part 1 – Unrestricted facts and advice to the PCC

Introduction and background: Why we need to change?

Major crime is defined by Her Majesties Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) as the most serious incidents of violence and death investigated by the police.
Within North Yorkshire (NYP) this encompasses crime in action, crime linked in a series and serious crime impacting on vulnerable members of the community. Hence, the remit of the existing Major Crime Unit in NYP is:

  • Homicide Investigations.
  • Corporate Manslaughter Investigations.
  • Kidnap and Extortion (when a demand has been made and/or there is a threat to life or public safety).
  • Stranger Rape.
  • Incidents of suspicious sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDIC).
  • High Risk Missing Person investigations or reviews and referrals.
  • Referrals for investigation from HM Coroner.
  • Linked or series crimes requiring the deployment of an SIO and specialist investigative resources.

Major crime investigation can be divided into three key phases.

Initial actions and response.

This phase is in essence the deployment of resources for gathering information and material needed in response to an incident being reported and the actions taken to preserve life, secure scenes, arrest offenders, locate and secure evidence.

The investigative phase

This involves development and implementation of investigative strategies capable of gathering all material needed to establish not only a crime has taken place but how and in what particular circumstances: the identification of witnesses, identification and arrest of offenders, gathering of forensic evidence and material capable of presentation at court for ultimately a successful prosecution and outcome for victims and their families.

Case management phase

This involves post charge enquiries, preparation and disclosure of material gathered for the prosecution / defence and witness management throughout the trial.

The complexities and material gathered in even the most straightforward of Homicide investigations is likely to be significant and involve recording a volume of material that is too large to manage without the use of bespoke computer software called HOLMES. HOLMES is a national software system designed for use in such enquiries and is standard across all UK police services and capable of linking with each other. Each major or serious enquiry will differ in complexity and length but as a general rule phase 1 is relatively short but the most resource intensive, phase 2 tends to be the longest phase with the resource requirements decreasing over time. Phase 3 tends to be court dependant and relatively resource light. On any such enquiry certain roles are essential, a proportion of which will be retained throughout the life of that enquiry and court hearing, whilst others are used as demands dictate.

These roles are outlined in the National Police Murder Investigation Manual endorsed by ACPO and are summarised as follows:

Role Responsibility
Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) Overall responsibility for investigation including development of investigative strategy, information management, decision making, resource allocation and accountability
Deputy SIO Assist in the development of investigation strategy, implementation of investigative strategy and management of the logistics of the investigation
Office/ Holmes Manager Manages all administrative duties including management of the generation, allocation and completion of investigative actions.
Indexer Receives, register all documents raising actions as directed.
Researcher Searches and retrieves material from force systems in support of the investigation
Read receiver Receive and reviews all documentation that enters the major incident room to ensure it has been correctly completed
Action team Detectives responsible for the investigation of actions raised from the implementation of the investigative strategy.
Family liaison Officer To act as the conduit between the investigation and family members.
Disclosure Officer Responsible for management and disclosure of all material involved in the investigation
Exhibits Officer Responsible for recording, managing and distribution of exhibit property held within the enquiry.
Analytical support Responsible for development of all open source intelligence in support of the investigation
CCTV reviewer Receive, review and collate all CCTV material seized through the enquiry.
Interview advisor (Tier 5) Provides advice on interview strategy taking into consideration all aspects of the investigation
Interviewer (Tier 3) Undertakes suspect or key critical interviews based around interview strategy
Investigative review Critically review the investigation to ensure all investigative opportunities are being developed appropriately and that resource allocation is appropriate to the level of requirement.

A multitude of additional specialist roles may also be called upon dependant on the nature of the investigation. In addition the investigation is supported by core support roles such as forensic services, House to House enquiry teams, search teams etc.

Expand And Contract Model

The current NYP model for responding to the most serious incidents of violence, sexual violence and death is to utilize resources from its small Major Crime Unit (MCU) comprising a detective contingent and dedicated HOLMES operators. Additional detective capacity is then drawn from local resources within the organisation. In this way the investigative resource expands to meet the demands placed upon the organisation by the incident and then contracts releasing resource back to core duties when the demand for their skills cease. This is known as a ‘expand and contract model’. The SIO team and main investigative resource for any enquiry will always be drawn from within the Crime Directorate. In protracted investigations it is normal practice for SIO’s to place on hold their normal daily responsibilities as department/functional heads and rely on ‘junior’ colleagues to manage.

Role of Crime Directorate

The Crime Directorate within North Yorkshire currently deals from an investigative perspective with thee broad differing strands of crime. In brief these consist of Serious Acquisitive Crime (burglary/robbery/vehicle crime), Protecting Vulnerable Persons (interfamilial sexual and violent crime, Adult and Child Safeguarding issues etc) and Serious Violent and Sexual crime (rape, serious violence etc). These are supplemented by specialised units that offer bespoke services (Major Crime Unit, Organised Crime unit, Fraud and Financial Investigation). Each area of business requires a range of investigative and other skills some of which overlap across the full directorate and others which are bespoke to that individual unit. This unit based approach is the traditional crime model adopted by North Yorkshire with units making a contribution to major crime investigation when required under the expand and contract model.

Major and serious crime demand

Live Enquiries

North Yorkshire is a very safe place to live and the amount of serious/ major crime it experiences is relatively low. When they do occur they have a significant impact on police resources and the community. Due to these small numbers the impact of national changes to major crime statistical trends is less evident locally. Historic major crime demand can be used an indicator of likely future demands, however the ability to predict accurately, when the number of crimes are small, is extremely difficult. For example over the last twelve years North Yorkshire police has averaged approximately 5 homicides per year but this is contained within a range of 0 – 11. For example in the past three months alone NYP has experienced four homicides. Due to the potential size and complexity of this type of crime, variation by a single crime would have a significant impact on resource.

Each homicide will bring its own complexities that would require differing levels of resourcing appropriate to each of the investigation’s needs. To illustrate the requirement two NYP investigations have been reviewed in respect of resource utilisation*.

Stranger murder:

Investigation lasted 7 months:
Police Officer resources used

  • Initial response phase: 1 x DSupt, 1 x DI, 4 x DS/PS, 19x DC/PC
  • Retained for the length of the enquiry: 1 x DSupt, 0.5 x DI, 3 x DS, 4 X DC.

Domestic murder

Investigation lasted 1 year

  • Initial Phase 1 x DSupt, 1 x DI, 5 x DS/PS, 15 x PC/DC
  • Retained for length of enquiry 1 x DSupt, 1 x DI, 3 x DS, 4 X DC

*Data is estimated from information kept within the enquiry. Additional staff worked on the enquiries at different stages and staff were released back to normal duties during the enquiry.

Other aspects of crime covered by a major crime unit response.

Sexual assaults.

Sexual assault is an area of crime that has a devastating impact on the victim and victims family. Sexual assault includes a range of offences including indecent assault, child sexual abuse and rape. Each crime will be investigated by the crime directorate but there are some circumstances where the threat or harm to the community is such that a major crime approach is required. These tend to be where there is a linked series of offences, multiple offenders or where there has been a complete opportunist stranger ‘rape’. Fortunately, historically, the number of sexual offences that fall within these most serious of categories is very low. Based on historical data NYP average around 15 such serious sexual crimes per year where the offender is unknown to the complainant. However when considered in context of the circumstances and information the majority of these would not need to be adopted as a major enquiry.

Kidnap and Extortion.

Kidnap and extortion by their nature tend to be crimes in action, that require a fast moving, highly pressured and dynamic response that requires an immediate covert police response to the situation. More often than not the victim will face significant harm or death if the offenders believe the police have been notified. Consequently conventional overt policing is replaced by more resource intensive covert operations that run relentlessly until conclusion. Based on historical data North Yorkshire police average approximately 2 per year.

Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood.

Sudden infant death is always a tragedy that all too often occurs even with advances in medical treatment. Each infant death is subject to investigation or investigative review by the police and those that prove suspicious or neglectful would be adopted as a major enquiry. Based on historical data NYP average approximately 18 sudden infant deaths (under age 1) per year. Although all inevitably start from an assumption of suspicion or neglect it is not necessary for the majority to be adopted as a full major enquiry.

High Risk Missing Persons.

High risk ‘missing from home are often classified such because they involve individuals who have a range of circumstances that render them particularly vulnerable. NYP defines a high risk missing person as one where;

  • The risk posed is immediate
  • There are substantial grounds for believing that the subject’s life is in danger or exposed to serious harm through their own vulnerability
  • They may have been the victim of a serious crime
  • There are substantial grounds for believing that the public are in danger

The vast majority of individuals categorised as high risk are found quickly as a result of police response or return safely of their own volition prompted by police action. The police response to locate such individuals is resource intensive, necessary and constant to significantly improve the chances of successfully locating them alive or reducing their exposure to significant harm. In circumstances where they are found deceased or have been subject to significant harm, this inevitably requires considerable investigative resource to establish not only what happened but who was responsible.

Cold Case Reviews.

Cold case reviews are the review and potential reinvestigation of historic homicide or serious sexual offences where the original enquiry reached its exhaustive conclusion but failed to establish or detect what had occurred. They are often split into undetected Homicide / suspicious deaths and undetected sexual offences. The latter category (sexual offences) tend to be forensically led in part due to the advances in DNA technology. The Homicide and suspicious death category requires a more complex review given the volume of material necessarily amassed in attempt to solve the enquiry. National investigative doctrine determines that all suspicious deaths should be treated as homicide until proved otherwise. As such in pursuit of the truth, necessary investigative enquiries are limited only by the circumstances and can take several months to complete. ( eg, in cases where the skeletal remains offer no obvious means of identity or evidence other than a fractured skull as cause of death). With continual advances in technology and investigative approach such cases should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure all operational opportunities to bring the investigation to a successful conclusion are fully exploited and reduce the risk of reoffending.

Organisational Risk

The longer an expand and contract model operates as the sole model for major crime investigation the greater the organisational risk because;

  • It spreads the exposure and experience gained from such work thinly amongst the workforce rather than concentrating on dedicated resources; the net effect can be a less efficient response and inhibited professional accreditation and expertise.
  • It limits the ability to have a scheduled programme, to critically assess current undetected live investigations and review and or reinvestigate historic (cold case) major crime investigations. This compounds the risks over time as backlogs increase.
  • It impacts on the resilience to maintain delivery of policing service across the full crime and Safer Neighbourhood portfolio at times of peak Major Crime demand
  • It reduces the organisations ability to provide an immediate agile response to crime directorate demands by having to draw resources from across the pool of resource. This increases the organisational risk in other areas of business from which resources are deviated.
  • It abstracts Senior investigative managers (who also act as SIO) from day business for extended periods of time leaving day business to less experienced colleagues. to manage ( Eg PVP and associated partnership work to safeguard others).

n.b. Whilst it is anticipated that a single MCU would meet the requirement to resource and respond to the majority of major crimes there may be occasions where a small degree of expand and contract from within the Crime directorate is still needed to compliment such a response.

Matters for consideration

It is proposed that NYP moves to an operational dedicated MCU model as soon as practical as set out in section 2.

The standalone model will retain the direction and control of the staff and maintain their presence to work exclusively within NYP. The police Officer resource will be exclusively met from within the Crime directorate so that there would be no impact on front line policing resource. The resource will also provide flexibility to support cold case review and Safer neighbourhoods by dealing with other crime types when resources become available with normal peaks and troughs of Major Crime demand. However with a standalone model comes a number of risks that would need to be managed.

Resource to meet peak demand

Spread over a year the resource held within the MCU team would be sufficient to meet typical demand. However based upon professional judgement and historical data the size of the MCU team may be insufficient to meet the resource need of some incidents at the point of peak demand ( phase 1 and initial part of phase 2 ) and would therefore still potentially need to abstract additional resource from within the crime directorate. This should not be seen as detracting from the necessity to have a dedicated team.

Existing resource skill set

At present to formulate an NYP MCU using experienced detectives (whilst simultaneously meeting our commitment to a neighbouring force under a prior agreement) could have a significant detrimental effect on other areas of investigation. To mitigate this risk there are options around phased implementation, recruitment or delayed implementation.

  1. Recruit and transfer to NYP experienced major crime Detectives complimented by existing NYP resource. This option could have a lead in time of approximately 6-12 months depending on the type of recruitment campaign and release of resource back from Sacristy.
  2. Staff completely from internal resource developing the unit from existing staff over time once succession planning and detective capacity has met established strength. This option would be likely to have a lead in time of 12-24 months to allow for new detectives to become accredited through the national 24 month rolling detective programme.

Training and retention of skills

Initial training would need to be undertaken to ensure that individuals comprising NYP MCU had the requisite skills. In the medium/long term additional training processes may need to be established (depending on demand) to ensure the full range of MCU investigative skills were maintained to accredited levels. (potentially including working outside NYP alongside existing major crime units)

Review and reinvestigation (live and stalled enquiries)

Overall a single MCU, should have more resilience to service both live investigation and cold case review/ re-investigation. In addition it will drive necessary improvements to the dedicated ‘Green room’ facilities. (A green room is the dynamic intelligence cell that deals with crimes in action in live time.) and finally see NYP adopt and implement the recommended national IT solution (CLIO) for crimes in action. CLIO is capable of national networking where crimes cross borders and are jointly investigated and is a system already adopted by almost all forces and the foreign and commonwealth office for such purposes. CLIO can also be used by investigators to manage short-term complex investigations without labour intensive HOLMES resources.

Summary of MCU requirement

The overall requirement to deliver an the MCU function would see:

  • Investment in the professionalisation of staff through development of skills
  • A realignment of existing police officer posts within the Crime Directorate (complimented if necessary by seconded detectives until such times as Op Sacristy {NYP Detectives seconded long term to a neighbouring force enquiry} are returned to force).
  • A realignment of support staff resource from the existing NYP operational staff
  • Dedicated new facilities at Harrogate police station.
  • Development of an enhanced green room (Intelligence resource for Crimes in action) capability and capacity.

Professionalisation and modernisation of MCU practices working to a specific and detailed standard operating procedures under a defined terms of reference

Other options considered.

No change

Relies on the expand and contract model which has a number of organisation risks associated with it and is no longer sustainable or feasible as described in this paper.

A Joint partnership

Major crime in NYP is a relatively small volume high resource impact area of business that has a disproportionate impact on remaining policing resources for the duration of the investigation. Resilience through greater effectiveness increases under a single force MCU but it should further improve under a joint agreement. It also smoothes the resource demand spike NYP would otherwise have to manage, often to the detriment of other policing services and public. Moreover it provides managers with the opportunity to plan and configure resources for more stable demands knowing resources will not be taken away without notice to service major crime. A two force has been explored in detail with West Yorkshire Police as a preferred partner but at this present time due to a structural review within that force a combined resource is not achievable in the medium term. North Yorkshire Police will continue to explore partnership arrangements with other forces that will drive additional efficiency and effectiveness in reducing harm.

Contribution to Police and Crime Plan outcomes

A Major Crime Unit enables NYP to provide a dedicated, skilled and experienced response to major crime and crime in action and provides further opportunities for enhancement through partnership working with neighbouring forces that is in the best interests of our community.

In addition the Major Crime Unit also enables management to reconfigure remaining directorate resources to provide dedicated resources in a more efficient and effective way to deal with crime investigation. This will enable NYP to enhance its service to the communities of North Yorkshire including improving effectiveness in the investigation of serious violence, sexual assault, hate crime and the pursuit of offenders that cause the most harm to our communities.

Consultations carried out

This proposal has been consulted upon internally with Chief Officers, Crime Directorate Senior management and with the West Yorkshire Police HMET senior management team.

Financial Implications/Value for Money

The financial implications

In delivering an alternative model there are a number of financial costs associated with implementation which can be divided into new capital and revenue costs as well as existing revenue costs which are summarised as follows.

Function Cost £’000 New / existing budge Comment
Capital IT services £4.5 New Cost for equipping the MCU suite with IT sufficient to deliver service.
Capital CCTV suite £3.5 New Cost of setting up a standalone CCTV suite to retrieve, analyse and review material
Capital Clio and server (5 year licence) £80.5 New Cost of implementing and maintaining for five years a fast action management system for crimes in action and sub Holmes functions (no disaster recovery). Bespoke system utilised by most forces nationally. Currently used by WYP
Capital costs £88.5
Revenue CCTV suite £4.0 New Initial cost of setting up a standalone CCTV suite to retrieve, analyse and review material
Revenue IT Services £9.4 New Initial cost for equipping the MCU suite with IT sufficient to deliver service
One off revenue costs £13.4
Revenue IT services £4.0 New Annual recurring IT costs for equipping the MCU suite
Revenue Support staff salary £101.1 New New staff posts and realignment of shift patterns including NI/Pension based on NYP terms and conditions for ISO posts
Revenue Police Officer salary The Officer posts proposed are as per the HMET/MCU team in the recent review of officer posts.
Revenue CCTV suite £1.0 New Recurring costs of a standalone CCTV suite to retrieve, analyse and review material
Revenue MCU specialist resource £100 New Key funding to provide supplementary provision of service around Cold Case review/live review and bespoke staff development to meet the requirements of the MCU
Recurring NYP revenue costs £206.1

There is no specific provision in the MTFP for the total of £101.9k capital and one-off revenue costs. These would therefore need to be funded from within the Plant and Equipment Rolling Programme.

There is no specific provision in the budget for the recurring revenue costs, but in the 2013/14 budget round, provision was made for £160k (recurring) for HMET. If this £160k is used to fund this MCU proposal, then a further £46.1k pa will need to be identified. This could come from the monies set aside for Operational Imperatives, which currently stands at £202k pa.

A full review of operational support staff will be undertaken as part of Stage 2 alignment of support resource under the CC and PCC. Taken with the completion of regionalisation of the Forensic Service, this may generate additional savings.

It is assumed that the existing overall non staff budgetary provision for Major Incidents will be sufficient to meet MCU non staff requirement. 13/14 budget is £299,962.

The £30k capital estate cost for the project has already been approved as part of the Harrogate new build project.

The Benefits/value for money

An MCU arrangement will provide benefits to North Yorkshire Police, namely:

Develops the investigative specialist skill set through exposure to a greater range of serious enquiries and through access to centralised training services.

  • Provision of additional resilience a times of significant demand minimising abstraction from other aspects of frontline policing
  • Enables immediate mobilization and deployment of a dedicated resource independent of other force demands, including crimes in action
  • Oversight and ownership of undetected live and historic major enquiries including review and reinvestigation mitigates organisational risk.
  • Recognises and invests in detective resources.

As MCU requires the investment of capital and revenue into both its establishment and running there will not be any cashable benefits from adopting the model . Whilst the model does not provide cashable benefits it does help smooth spikes of demand, mitigates risk held within the organisation and acts as an enabler for change allowing the remaining crime directorate to reconfigure to more effectively meet national priorities (such as Child Sexual Exploitation) and local priorities (such as reducing harm, driving justice).


It is anticipated that from date of approval there are the following lead in times to run concurrently:

Estates and ISD refurbishment of Harrogate space – 4 months subject to current project timetable

  • Police Officer structure implementation – 6-12 months to realign resources and identify officers including recruitment
  • Police Staff structure implementation – 6 months to agree role profiles, grade, consult and implement including disestablishment and establishment of posts.

Legal Implications

This proposal deals with a two stage approach to Major Crime Unit changes. Specifically:

  • Develop and reallocate existing MCU operations in NYP
  • Continue to explore the potential for partnership working with others in the MCU/HMET arena.

In respect of (1) above, the proposal to undertake this work is lawful provided change is undertaken in accordance with NYP change management processes and in particular, specialist advice (including legal advice) being taken in relation to people risk matters where appropriate.

In respect of future inter-force collaboration, Legal Services have previously considered the necessary preparations for a Functional Agreement (subordinate to the YaTH umbrella s22A agreement) and that work can be resumed in the event of collaboration being revived in earnest.

With those matters in mind, having read this report and having considered such information as has been provided at the time of being asked to express this view, the Force Solicitor & Head of Legal Services is satisfied that this report does not ask the Commissioner to make a decision which would (or would be likely to) give rise to a contravention of the law.

Public Access to Information

The Police and Crime Commissioner wishes to be as open and transparent as possible about the decisions he/she takes or are taken in his/her name. All decisions taken by the Commissioner will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

As a general principle, the Commissioner expects to be able to publish all decisions taken and all matters taken into account and all advice received when reaching the decision. Part 1 of this Notice will detail all information which the Commissioner will disclose into the public domain. The decision and information in Part 1 will be made available on the NYPCC web site within 2 working days of approval.

Only where material is properly classified as restricted under the GPMS or if that material falls within the description at 2(2) of The Elected Local Policing Bodies (Specified Information) Order 2011 will the Commissioner not disclose decisions and/or information provided to enable that decision to be made. In these instances, Part 2 of the Form will be used to detail those matters considered to be restricted. Information in Part 2 will not be published.

Is there a Part 2 to this Notice – YES
If Yes, what is the reason for restriction: Operationally sensitive

Tick to confirm statement √
Director/Chief Officer ACC Spittal/DCS Mason has reviewed the request and is satisfied that it is correct and consistent with the NYPCC’s plans and priorities.
Legal Advice Legal advice has been sought on this proposal and is considered not to expose the PCC to risk of legal challenge. Simon Dennis 9 May 2013
Financial Advice The CC CFO has both been consulted on this proposal, for which budgetary provision already exists or is to be made in accordance with Part 1 or Part 2 of this Notice Jane Palmer 0043649 May 13
Equalities Advice An assessment has been made of the equality impact of this proposal. Either there is considered to be minimal impact or the impact is outlined in Part1 or Part2 of this Notice.
I confirm that all the above advice has been sought and received and I am satisfied that this is an appropriate request to be submitted for a decision Mark Bates Date 9 May 2013
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